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Two therapists told me there are "red flags of abuse"...tell me what you think.

post #1 of 143
Thread Starter 

I'm asking this community because most of you are fair, you don't jump to conclusions of wrong doing.  I'm physically shaking and reaching out for opinions.  I posted on an "S.A. message board" and i posted on a mainstream "mommy" board and everyone told me that they would be concerned.  I spoke to 2 therapists and they said they are concerned and advised that I discontinue my daughter to visit with her dad.  Give me YOUR opinion and insight.  I'm at a loss of what to think. 

 

**Edited to add:  Daughter's age is 4.5**

 

One week ago (Sunday 8th), my daughter told me that she was alone with her teenage brothers and they pulled her pants down.  She said she hid in the closet until her dad arrived.  Her dad denies this ever happened.  (He's a pathological liar and I believe my daughter long before him).  Our (non legal) visitation agreement was that she NOT be left alone with her teenage brothers--only him or his mother should be her caretaker. 

 

Monday, Daughter had a doctor appointment to discuss her bad behavior lately and to get a referral to a therapist.  I told the doctor about all of daughter's bad behavior and weird "quirks" she's developed and I told her about the "lies" daughter has been telling--about the brothers pulling her pants down and some other things...

 

Doctor picked up on the "lies" about brothers and seemed concerned.  She asked us (Daughter's dad was present at doctor), "what has changed lately to cause the bad behavior?  Something had to have triggered this.  Someone move?  Die?  What's new?"  Her dad and I shrugged our shoulders and said we couldn't think of anything new. The doctor inquired about the brothers and how often they were alone with her and why they pulled her pants down.  Daughter's dad said she's lying.  I think the doctor was "onto" something. 

 

Around Christmas, Daughter started digitally penetrating herself in the tub.  I privately talked to her and told her, "Honey, I noticed what you were doing [she immediately stopped] and it's okay.  It's perfectly okay that you're doing that but you shouldn't do that in front of mommy and daddy."  I thought it was normal but the therapists this week said it's "rare" for her age group to penetrate.  They said that rubbing and external stimulation IS normal...but not internal. 

 

Both therapists said with Daughter's "bath time behavior" coupled with her bad behavior, lies, and weird quirks that there are red flags going up.  They advised me not to allow her to her dad's until she's been thru therapy and we figure out what's going on.  I told the therapists the time line of occurances: (This is so long, I"m sorry). 

 

Jan 1, 2011: Daughter started her first over night visit with her dad and has progressed throughout the year. 

 

March 25 '11:  I picked up daughter after her dad had her for 4 days.  We were in the ER that night.  Daughter was screaming in pain (blood curdling screams) with her FIRST UTI.  I didn't think much of this...I just thought she was dirty from not being bathed.  She was stinky between her legs and there was visible crud.  I let her soak in a bath, hoping to help (but later the pain grew to be severe). 

 

Middle of June 2011:  Her behavior shifted from good kid to defiant kid.  People told me, "Welcome to age 4.  Have fun!"  I didn't think much of it. 

 

July 2011:  Daughter started clearing her throat.  A lot.  Drove me crazy.  Cleared her throat all. the. time.  We thought it was an annoying habit she picked up. 

 

August 2011:  We took her to the doctor for clearing her throat.  We thought she may have an allergy or something that wasn't going away.  Doctor diagnosed her with having a "nervous tic".  She advised us to ignore the tic and it would go away.  We ignored and it did go away, but has surfaced here-and-there. 

 

October/November 2011:  Daughter started refusing to wear jeans that I had just bought.  I had JUST bought them.  She wore them a couple times.  But then decided they were "too tight".  She tugged at the crotch area, saying they were too tight in the crotch area.  She cried and begged me not to make her wear them.  I got rid of the jeans and she wore comfy sweats.

 

November 2011:  The (baggy) sweats that were once okay were "too tight".  The only thing she would wear were some soft fleece pants/shirts.  Extra big.  She started refusing to wear underwear.  Even the the underwear was big, she tugged at the crotch area and said they were too tight.  We did research and found something called "sensory processing disorder".  We didn't think we needed to involve the doctor at this point. 

 

December 2011:  The fleece clothes began to feel too tight.  Stuff she wore last week, were all of a sudden tight.  She started trying on 4 outfits (of the exact same clothes) before she found something that wasn't tight. 

 

She started the penetration in the tub.  At this point, I still hadn't thought anything was "wrong", other than my daughter is "different"...with all her quirks and behavior. 

 

After Christmas:  She told me that she cries at her dad's house and he won't let her call me.  I bought her a cell phone.  Last Tuesday she called me at midnight.  Her dad was watching "The Untouchables" (a very graphic movie not intended for a 4 year old).  I read her a story over the phone while her dad refused to turn the movie off  (she asked him if they could watch something else).  She hung up.  She called me at 1AM and said her dad was asleep and she was scared.  She ended up falling asleep while on the phone with me.  Before she fell asleep, she cried and said, "I wish I could come to your job and see you..." 

 

I didn't think "something" was up until my daughter told me her brothers pulled her pants down.  She told me of a couple more (specific) incidents when she was alone with them too. 

 

A couple nights ago, she was telling me a "secret" about being alone with her brothers.  While she was telling me, she was dragging her finger on my legs.  She then dragged her finger over my private area, twice.  I asked her, "Why are you touching my private area?  We're not supposed to touch people there."  She said "I don't know."   WHY would she do that while telling me about her brothers?  She has NEVER touched me there.  Why would she do that at all?  Maybe it's normal. 

 

My head is spinning.  I don't know what to think.  I have stopped visits at her dad's house.  He is furious.   I would be doing my daughter an injustice if I didn't listen to the advice of 2 professionals.  What would you think of all of this?  I'm shaking and my stomach is in knots.  I'm just at a loss.  Would you be concerned?  If not, WHY not? 


Edited by ButterflyBaby11 - 1/15/12 at 3:45pm
post #2 of 143

I truthfully would be concerned. I'm not necessarily concerned that she is being sexually harmed, though I wouldn't rule that out and would seek a specialist to look over that area and see if there is any trauma. I'm more concerned with what seems to be a lack of supervision when she is with her father and a lack of proper parenting. A 4 year old should be tucked safely in bed at midnight and have no idea what her father is watching. A 4 year old whom is away from her mother should never be denied a phone call and need a cell phone in order to solve that problem. I definitely would discontinue visits and seek therapy for your daughter. Or I would allow visitations for short periods in public places with the teenage brothers not present. It is hard to say what is normal or not. The clothing issue could be sensory precessing disorder (my daughter has it), but i would have thought there would have been signs of it before age 4 and that is why I am questioning it. The nervous tic seems most likely to be cause by some sort of internal stress. I'm all over the place in my response, but in short look for therapist that deals with sexual abuse and make sure your daughter is safe at all times even if that means limited visitation with dad and none with brothers until this is all figured out.

post #3 of 143

Yes I would absolutely be concerned. I would immediately discontinue visitation and seek both legal and medical/emotional help. Best of luck to you. Listen to your DD take your own feelings and her feelings seriously,

post #4 of 143
It's possible that she's lying, and it's possible that all these 'red flags' could have completely unrelated causes. But if she is being abused and you didn't believe her & continued to put her in that situation, the harm will be even greater, she won't bother telling anyone if/when things get worse, and the pain will be that much greater because mama knew and did nothing (in her eyes). I would take her word & not have her visit her dad's until things are sorted out. Maybe you can arrange supervised visitation if you are concerned about her not seeing her father for a length of time (and are certain he's not directly involved in the abuse, of course). I would also question her dad's judgement in allowing a 4yo to watch a graphic movie -- particularly because she was clearly scared & not enjoying it -- and allowing teens to be alone with her if you'd previously agreed not to... I'm assuming there was some reason for that agreement? Why did you guys choose to not allow her brothers to be alone with her in the first place?

Surely some of these things can be explained away, sensory issues aren't uncommon, maybe she's growing quickly... My own DS had a tic for a while & he hasn't be abused. I don't think many of those things in isolation would be 'red flags' to me, but together they are, and the fact that she has outright stated some things is the biggest flag of all & should lead to the most cautious approach IMO.

One thing I've always heard is to avoid questioning her yourself in case you inadvertently 'lead' her answers in one direction or the other. Let the professionals question her & try to sort things out...
post #5 of 143

The tight clothing, eh, I now a little girl who at about age 4 started this same kind of thing, and there is absolutely no possibility this child was being abused in any way. Also, I have notice over years of being around friends children that 4 yo girls tend to be horrid (sorry, just my opinion). That being said, everything else in your post is VERY concerning and I think stopping visitation and persuing therapy and possible legal action (certainly in to establish safe visitation, if such is possible) is what your daughter needs.

post #6 of 143

Holy smokes! With those kind of red flags I would never allow unsupervised visits with him again.

How do you know they are "lies" and not the truth? I'd be real concerned about someone insisting my child is lying.

Your therapists are correct, you need to work with them and heed their advice. Man I'd be steaming mad and pressing charges by now if it were me.

 

 

... crying at dad's house? not being allowed to call home? dad refusing to turn off graphic / inappropriate movie at your request at midnight ??  That alone would be enough for me to cut the ties.  The other stuff would have me calling the cops.  Thank God it sounds like you have decent therapists.

 

 

post #7 of 143

so what is the legal situation with your dd's father? is there anything written legally? parenting plan? or custody?

 

which state are you in?

 

what are you doing legally now that you have stopped the visits.

 

do you have anything on paper - from ER visit or anything else that shows perhaps abuse.

 

do you have support to get you through this. emotional support?

 

do you have $$$s?

 

you will need to get yourself a good lawyer. the best you can buy who has dealt with child abuse cases AND parent alientation syndrome (esp. if you live in a state where that is rampant). there are far too many parents who lose their child to their abuser. esp. if he is super smart.

 

if your dd is going to therapy check with the therapists credentials. make sure he or she is one of the best known and well respected in the field. if not find out that is so. 

 

the ball is in your court now. you have to get proactive now and get yourself a plan going.

 

i am sorry if i sound like gloom and doom. but keeping your dd away from her father without any legal action to back it up means nothing. your dd is still not safe. it just might be a temporary situation. you have to realise you are calling his son a child molester and might be 'ruining' his reputation for the rest of his life. his dad is not going to take this lightly - so you have to be really prepared. 

 

if it turns out it is NOT sexual abuse, i am sure it is still big and i hope you can find the answers to help your little girl. 

 

please make sure you yourself have support to help you through this time. you will need it. 

post #8 of 143

I would absolutely stop visits, and I am surprised that the therapists have not suggest a forensic interview.  When I worked as a Child Protective Services worker, anytime we had a suspision of sexual abuse (which includes inappropriate contact with an adult or older child, them exposing themselves or forcing her to expose herself, etc. It's still sexual abuse even if they didn't actually get to the point of molestation.)   A forensic interview is set up with trained professionals who work with kids and the interview is video taped in case it is needed in a court case.  If you suspect something happened always ask open ended question, such as "what happened then?" etc.  Don't give suggestions as to what happened, as then a child can become confused and it's harder to figure out what actually happened. 

 

I am so sorry that you are going through this, it is incredibly stressful for the parent and child.  Always err on the side of protecting your child. 

 

Best of luck to you.

post #9 of 143
Thread Starter 


Thank you everyone.  I will try to respond to all questions.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

so what is the legal situation with your dd's father? is there anything written legally? parenting plan? or custody?

 

which state are you in?

 

what are you doing legally now that you have stopped the visits.

 

do you have anything on paper - from ER visit or anything else that shows perhaps abuse.

 

do you have support to get you through this. emotional support?

 

do you have $$$s?

 

you will need to get yourself a good lawyer. the best you can buy who has dealt with child abuse cases AND parent alientation syndrome (esp. if you live in a state where that is rampant). there are far too many parents who lose their child to their abuser. esp. if he is super smart.

 

if your dd is going to therapy check with the therapists credentials. make sure he or she is one of the best known and well respected in the field. if not find out that is so. 

 

the ball is in your court now. you have to get proactive now and get yourself a plan going.

 

i am sorry if i sound like gloom and doom. but keeping your dd away from her father without any legal action to back it up means nothing. your dd is still not safe. it just might be a temporary situation. you have to realise you are calling his son a child molester and might be 'ruining' his reputation for the rest of his life. his dad is not going to take this lightly - so you have to be really prepared. 

 

if it turns out it is NOT sexual abuse, i am sure it is still big and i hope you can find the answers to help your little girl. 

 

please make sure you yourself have support to help you through this time. you will need it. 


We live in Illinois. 
 

He hasn't even signed her birth certificate.  In the eyes of the law, he has no legal rights.  I carry a certified copy of her birth cert. in my wallet for proof, if he'd ever take her without my consent he would be arrested.  So, I have the right to discontinue visits right now, according to the law.  I told him, that in Daughter's best interest, I think she needs a break from her house (due to her behavior).  Daughter called him today and he said he was getting ready to come get her.  I started shaking.  I text him and told him not to come to my house and cause a scene.  I was prepared to call 911 if he showed up.  He had words with me on the phone...accused me of being crazy, withholding his daughter from him, etc.  (He's an emotional abuser).  I remained calm and told him Daughter needed a break from his house.  (He does NOT know that I spoke to therapists.  He does NOT know what we're suspecting.  He ONLY knows about Daughter's extreme behavior and that her doctor referred us to a therapist.  Daughter has not seen therapist yet). 

 

Everything medically is documented.  I called daughters old pediatrician to ask them if they documened a specific incident (they didn't...I had called about daughter bleeding from the rectum.  Back then, they told me it was probly a hemoroid.  Back then, I didn't think anything was going on).  The receptionist told me, the last 3 times you were here (in 2010), you were here for "discoloration in the pubic area, a bruise on her inner thigh, and her having potty accidents."  As she told me that, my heart sank.  Back then, I didn't suspect anything.  Nothing.  I didn't suspect anything until this Sunday when daughter told me she was alone with brothers and they pulled her pants down.  Other things have slowly surfaced and I'm really concerned.  The doctor, back then, diagnosed daughters "discoloration" as "something", I can't remember.  It looked like a caulus..like she was riding her wooden rocking horse or something.  We couldn't figure out what it was from.  It's since gone, no discoloration anymore. 

 

The ER visit with UTI is documented.  But the doctor did not physically examine her.  There may be proof that she was with her dad for 4 days before that occuring, I'll have to dig. 

 

I have access to money.  I have a grandma who will spend her life savings protecting our baby.  I'm on the phone with her right now and she's assuring me we will hire the best lawyer if need be.  She is also my emotional support.  She is keeping Daughter. 

 

I will check on the credibility of her therapist.  I mentioned the name to MY therapist and she said she was good...but I will check into it, thank you. 

 

The past 3 nights, daughter has been "accidently" touching my private area while we're laying in bed having pillow talk (we co-sleep and wrestle/play in bed before turning the lights off).  Friday night she stood up and told me, "Hey!  Did you know that if you do this [and she rubbed her private outside of her clothes] that it tickles?"  I said, "Oh yea?  Well that's cool (not knowing what else to say)".    She insisted that I try it.  I told her I didn't want to.  She lifted up my hand and made me touch myself and said, "See?  It tickles!"  Subject was changed. 
 

 

Later when she put her pull up on, she wanted me to "press the pull-up".  She was naked, legs apart with the pull-up just setting in front of her crotch.  I asked her why, told her I didn't want to.  She said it's fun, just press.  She took my hand and put it on her pull up.  She mumbled something about "press the pull-up game..."  

 

Last night, I asked her if she had any secrets.  She said "Yeah! I do!"  She told me the story of waking her brother up when her dad was at the store (the exact story she told me before).  While she was telling me, she dragged her finger on my legs and over my private area, twice.  I asked her, "Why did you touch my private area?"  She replied, "I don't know".  Let me just say that we have an open communication.  I answer any questions she has about her body, I've never shamed her body.  However, she has NEVER...and I mean NEVER...touched my private area like that.  Ever.  And why would she touch me there while telling me the story she was telling me?  I don't know what is going on...but some weird stuff IS going on. 

 

I have everything on audio record.  All of our bedtime talks are recorded.  It's obvious that I'm NOT coaching her.  She tells me things on her own free will.  And I have proof, if he or anyone else says I'm trying to coach her.  I started recording Daughter a month or two ago, as she started telling me "lies" and what not.  I just wanted to have proof and not forget what she told me. 

 

I saw Daughter inserting toys in herself in the tub yesterday.  That, I've been told, is not normal at all for her age.

 

I just don't know what to think.  I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  I don't want this to be true.  But right now, I don't *know* and my loyalty belongs to my daughter and I have to protect her.
 

 

 

 

post #10 of 143

I tend to think (as a survivor of sexual abuse myself, for what it's worth) that the pendulum has tilted a little too far and that we, as a society are hyper-aware of red flags, to the point that we're seeing them where they don't exist.

 

There are red flags all over the place here. The fact that he simply said, "she's lying" about her brothers, when it's already obvious that he doens't look after her properly...the thing with the movie (I see no excuse for making a child watch such a thing...especially when the child has requested that it be turned off)...the lack of hygiene (I have four children, and have never had one of them with genitals icky sounding as you describe your daughters after the one visit)...the self-penetration...the touching your private area while talking about her brothers. This is a mess.

 

I'd absolutely stop the visits, take your daughter to a therapist, and consult a lawyer to ensure that he can't wedge himself back into the situation.

post #11 of 143

This may open a can of worms you can't escape from, but consider a call to Child Protective Services. The problem with calling them is that it can always be turned around on you that you were just trying to victimize dad with false accusations. A bulldog lawyer sound totally necessary. Do not go with a nice lawyer, go with someone with a successful reputation. It also sounds like, at some point, your daughter might need a pelvic exam. I don't know if that's appropriate or not for a 4 year old (and talk about traumatic,) but it's something you should ask about.

 

I would stop asking her "Why did you touch my privates?" If you are audio recording and you want documentation, a simple, "Please don't touch my privates," is enough. Constantly asking her "why" could be considered leading AND she doesn't know why she's doing it so I'd say it's more harmful than helpful to her.

 

 

post #12 of 143

The only thing about your story that strikes me as "normal" is the preference for soft, loose clothing.  Everything else raises red flags for me too.

post #13 of 143
Thread Starter 

I don't have much time to respond.  I will tomorrow. 

 

I just wanted to say thanks to all of you. 

 

I'm a SA survivor, too, and i worry if I'm being oversensitive.  I've rationalized all behavior, the UTI, etc.  I've refrained from jumping to conclusions.  But the lies about her brothers pulling her pants down was the first time I heard an "alarm" so to speak.  Thinking over the occurances over the last year, they're all falling into place.  Each occurance, alone, is nothing.  But together it really worries me.  Maybe each occurance is an unfortunate coincidence.  Maybe it's nothing.  Maybe it's something.  I just don't know :( 

 

I am still scared and worried. But your responses have made me feel better about my decision to not allow her at his house for awhile. 

 

He told me today that his grandma is dying.  "Today may be the last time Daughter can see my grandma before she dies.  I hope you feel happy with yourself..."  I didn't.  I felt sick.  I felt terrible.  But I have to protect my daughter. 

 

More tomorrow.  Thank you all so much. 

 

post #14 of 143

Keep her away.  Even if you are wrong, she needs to know you will protect her.  As far as his grandma, sorry it's happening, but your child's safety is most important and she needs to stay away from them until this is figured out at the very least.  And while I hope it is nothing, it all together sounds like too much to be a pure coincidence.  I have a little girl who just turned 5...she barely knows what a 'private part' is.  I mean, yes, I've told her what the parts of her body are called, but other than that and a couple mentions in her life that it itches, it's just not something that comes up in conversations.  The "pat the pull up" game would concern me too, that sounds like something she has learned, and it would worry me.

post #15 of 143

It doesn't mean you can't do some supervised visits with her dad, or even go see grandma with her.

 

Just tell him, that until you have checked with some doctors, you aren't letting him be alone with her, but, hopefully it will all be resolved soon.

 

If he's smart, he would be very afraid right now.  

post #16 of 143

Thank goodness you are taking this seriously.  Keep your daughter away from her dad and older brothers, don't trust them alone with her.  Ever.  Do have her medically examined to specifically look for abuse and make sure she has the support and therapy she needs. 

 

So sorry you and your daughter are going through this.  Please do listen to her, don't dismiss these things.  I've taken care of many children over the years, and in my opinion her behaviors point very strongly to abuse.

 

I'm also a SA survivor, and I still remember the few times that I tried to clue my parents in, they dismissed it.  I lost my trust in their ability to understand and protect me, and suffered the abuse for years, because they could not handle the truth of the situation.  I'm not saying you are like this, but do listen to your instincts to protect your daughter, and don't dismiss the signs.  Hopefully they are merely suspicions and nothing wrong is going on, but you have to in every way behave as though it's possible and do what you can to protect her. 

post #17 of 143

Even if there isn't any sexual abuse, it sounds like her dad is a real jerk. If you're not legally required to send her to him, definitely don't.

post #18 of 143

I see red flags too and I agree you should get CPS involved. And I wouldn't let him have unsupervised visitation until the case is investigated and resolved.

post #19 of 143
I would see if you can find out what hospital Grandma is at and take DD to go see her yourself (as long as there's no chance SHE is involved in any abuse, that is).

I would also second (third? fifth?) the lawyer recommendations, even if legally you aren't obligated to allow visitation, it seems like a tricky situation and a lawyer definitely needs to be involved.
post #20 of 143

Yes I would be very concerned. Huge red flags. Good luck and much love to you and your dd.

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